Discourses of rape culture: An examination of university policies on sexualized violence

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MacNaughton, Julie
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The purpose of this study is to identify language used in sexualized violence polices at post-secondary institutions that are consistent with Coates & Wade's (2007) research on language that blames the victim, obscures perpetrator responsibility and sexualizes violent acts (Todd et al., 2004). The terms rape, unwanted sexual experiences, and sexual assault are often used interchangeably in research. For this thesis, the term "sexualized violence" will be used to cover these terms. A comparison of two Canadian sexualized violence policies is utilized, followed by grading and scoring of the two policies according to the scorecard for sexualized violence policies from Canadian organizations, Our Turn (2017). A content analysis is utilized to explore the language and terms used in the policies that are examined. This is followed by providing five advocacy organizations that advocate for ending sexualized violence on campuses with aiming to improve policies at post-secondary institutions. The policies analyzed for this project showed some findings consistent with the literature and research discussed, showing that the use of language is consistent with Coates & Wade's (2007) research showing that language blames the victim and minimize it sexualize and mutualize language. The analysis also showed evidence of supportive language for victims of sexualized violence. This project serves as a starting point for future research in the area of sexualized violence polices at universities and their possible impacts on victims, support, reporting, and adjudication of the perpetrators.
rape culture , universities , policies , sexualized violence , language , discourse